15 Jan From Ireland to Australia, Kiera Kinahan just can’t stop playing Camogie
After playing the Irish game of camogie for years, and in anticipation of her move to Australia, Kiera Kinahan was almost ready to hang up her boots.
Little did she know, however, that camogie would be the sport to help her settle into her adopted home, and that a few years down the track, she would captain the Australasian team to win the 2016 Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) World Games.
“It’s something that I never thought would happen, and to represent Australasia was an amazing achievement,” she said.
“When all the best players in Australasia were picked for it, we all went in with a common goal to not only make the most of the experience, but also to play as hard as we can and do as well as we can seeing as we’d travelled all the way across the world.”
Keira was born and raised in the small village of Ballyhale in the south county of Kilkenny, a town well-known for their strength in hurling and camogie.
Having played since she was in school, her love for the sport continued to grow and she went on to play at the highest level in Ireland.
“From such a young age, it really gives you a great sense of belonging and teaches you how to make friends, how to work hard and be determined to achieve a common goal, but it’s also a lot of fun,” she explained.
I played for my county team of Kilkenny for six or seven years, and when I moved to Australia in 2006, I was tired and questioning whether I would even continue playing the sport.
“It was hard settling in and it was difficult to find work, but about two or three months in, a few people had approached me to play with them at the Central Coast GAA team.”
Accepting the offer, Kiera was appreciative of the easy-going and social nature of the team.
Feeling none of the pressure that she used to while playing at home in Ballyhale, she became pleasantly accustomed to pre-season training on the beach, and post-training barbecues.
“It has been really interesting seeing the game evolve since I started playing with the Central Coast team in 2007,” Keira said.
The quality and standard of players have definitely improved over time and now every team in Sydney probably has players who would have played at the highest level back in Ireland, so it’s really competitive.
However, when the Australasian team was selected in 2016, and despite being from different states, Kiera said the girls came together to become a team quickly, a credit to the team’s management.
“We only had one play together before we went to Dublin, in Sydney one weekend where we had dinner and training and practice games, and Vivid Festival was on at the time so we got to take a boat around the harbour, so it was a really good time getting to know our teammates,” she said.
“It was down to management, they just put a huge effort into doing whatever they could to help the girls bond pretty quickly.”
With the 2019 GAA World Cup teams set to be announced, Keira believes the team will still go into the tournament with the same mentality, with the hope that it will mean they will come out with the same result.
Follow the Gaelic Football & Hurling Association of Australasia on Facebook HERE to be one of the first to know about the teams competing at the World Cup in 2019.